The Best XBMC Skin: Aeon MQ 5

The Aeon series of skins for XBMC are probably the best-looking skins available from the stock repository, and they are certainly the most customisable. The most comprehensively customisable of the series is MQ 5, compatible up to v13.2 (Gotham). It’s got a slick interface with nearly every possible screen customisable to some point. Even the main menu can be rewritten to suit your needs!

Aeon MQ 5 even comes with a “Games” menu powered by the Rom Collection Browser plugin, allowing one to access emulators, Steam, and local games from a single menu like TV shows or films. Add the Advanced Launcher plugin and you can write a custom launcher script for Netflix or Hulu as well!

Rather than extolling the virtues in my lackluster prose, YouTuber Badluck Justice has a great video showing off what is probably the best XBMC skin available. Check it out below.

How To Add a Shuffle Function in Kodi (XBMC)

Kodi provides powerful metadata-driven sorting for your video collection, separating TV shows into individual seasons and films into particular franchises, but what if you want a more “traditional” television experience? An experience of sitting back and passively letting some omniscient programming director select your next viewing course? Sometimes, we just don’t want to deal with the responsibilities of decision or the overwhelming paradox of choice. For those occasions, the LazyTV plugin saves the day!

When invoked, LazyTV will populate a random playlist containing as many items within your preconfigured criteria as you like, then play them seamlessly until you either stop the stream or the playlist runs out. Add movies to the playlist for the full “1980s TBS experience”.

LazyTV also mimics streaming services like Netflix and Hulu by offering an autoplay function for next episodes in a series. When a selected episode ends, LazyTV will offer to play the next episode automatically (without the pesky “Are You Still Watching?” dialog).

I keep a link to LazyTV’s shuffle function on my home screen, next to TV Shows, because I often run into the dreaded question of what to watch next. When you make lots of high-value decisions during the day, you often don’t have the energy left to make such low-value ones, and your television viewing habits should never be anything to worry over!

LazyTV is available in the official repository, so installation is as simple as navigating to Settings>Add-Ons>Get Add-Ons>>Program Add-Ons and installing LazyTV from the menu. For more information, check out the LazyTV page in the Kodi Wiki.

Useful Kodi Add-Ons

Here’s a quick list of several useful Kodi add-ons to round-out a new installation:

  • Kodi Backup does exactly what the name implies by allowing automatic and on-demand backups of all databases, playlists, thumbnails, add-ons, and other configuration settings. Backups can be made to any connected media or to Dropbox. Make sure that you get the correct version for your installation. 13.2 and earlier versions (XBMC) will need to use the XBMC Backup add-on instead.
  • Artist Slideshow and Artist Slideshow Helper work together to download and manage extra artwork and metadata from various sources.
  • Artwork Organizer sorts downloaded artwork into separate folders based on type (thumbnail or fanart).
  • CdART Manager downloads album artwork for your music collection.
  • RSS Editor allows you to edit the RSS feeds that appear in the ticker at the bottom of the home screen. Go to Settings>Appearance>Skin to edit the feed addresses.
  • TvTunes is a fun add-on that allows you to download MP3s of show themes that play as you browse through the “TV Shows” section of your library.
  • YouTube adds functionality with the popular video sharing website.
  • Yahoo! Weather scrapes weather reports and forecasts viewable in the “Weather” section of Kodi.

How to set up LCD output for Kodi in Ubuntu Linux

So, after taking the time to install the hardware and driver for the nMedia PRO-LCD, we need a source of information to display on the external display. This particular set of instructions deals ONLY with how to set up LCD output for Kodi in Ubuntu. In Kodi for Linux, the XBMCLCDproc add-on provides the information to be displayed on the external LCD. Install this add-on from the Settings>Add-ons>Services menu.

In your browser, download LCD.xml from the add-on’s Github site into the ~/.kodi/userdata/ folder. Edit the values within this file with a text editor like Nano or GEdit.

More information on LCDproc syntax and configuration can be found on the LCD page of the Kodi Wiki as well as the Github site.

How To Install Advanced Launcher Add-On For Kodi (XBMC)

UPDATE: 2016-01-05 Advanced Launcher has been discontinued by its author and all links to its repository have been deleted. I am investigating alternatives and will post again once I have an answer. Until then, please check the comments section for further information.

Advanced Launcher is an add-on for Kodi that is used to launch external applications such as Firefox or Steam in any operating system. Launcher parameters are customisable so a particular instance can launch a specific website, game, or media file. In short, if it can be defined in a command-line interface, it can be done through Advanced Launcher.

Unfortunately, such awesome power is not available to Kodi users by default. To install Advanced Launcher, you will have to add the Angelscry repository to Kodi’s source list. To access the source list, navigate to the “Files Manager” under the “System” menu.

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Choose “Add Source” and type as the path. Name the source “Angelscry Repository” and click “OK”.

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From the Settings>Add-ons Menu, choose “Install from zip file”. When the browser appears, select “Angelscry Repository” from the list and wait for it to connect to the server.

Select “repository.angelscry.xbmc-plugins” from the list and choose the latest version of the repository to install. Back out to the Add-ons menu and now choose “Get Add-ons”. Select the newly-available Angelscry Repository, then “Program Add-ons”, and finally “Advanced Launcher”. The add-on will now be available from the “Programs” menu on the home screen.

Creating a standalone launcher (for a single executable like Firefox) is a simple process of browsing to the executable for the application (or just entering the command in Linux), defining the command-line parameters, and providing a (optional) thumbnail. The add-on walks you through the process and you will be able to set these launchers as favourites or (in the case of the Aeon MQ5 skin) home menu items.

Troubleshooting XBMC Sound

Need help troubleshooting XBMC sound? Try these helpful hints!

  • If external applications launched via Advanced Launcher have no sound, try disabling skin sounds in XBMC. Sometimes there may be a conflict with the device being locked to XBMC (this is especially true in some derivatives of Ubuntu such as Lubuntu) and simply disabling the sounds should solve it. Adjusting the timeout settings in Advanced Launcher may also help, but it is more complicated.
  • Having problems with audio in XBMC? Check the device settings and verify the correct output device is selected. Settings>System>Audio Output